European starlings, Sturnus vulagaris, on wires -- click to enlarge.
It was very windy in Brooklyn yesterday. Birds on wires were all facing in the same direction. On a still day or in sheltered areas, birds sit facing any direction. But when the wind is blowing they turn to face it -- not just on wires but also on beaches, on branches, in fields, at feeders, on fences, and everywhere else. They are streamlined and the wind flows smoothly around them. If they faced the other way, it would ruffle up their feathers and let cold air under, and it might push them off balance. Like airplanes, birds land into the wind. They take off into the wind like airplanes too, and for the same reason -- they get aerodynamic lift. As they sit facing the wind, they are ready to step into the air and fly.
I am a Collection Manager at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I live in Brooklyn. Most mornings I walk a few blocks to the subway station. I get off the train at 59th street in Manhattan and walk a mile along Central Park West through one of the most urban settings in the world. I see a nonhuman mammal or two, a few dozen birds, and a variety of intriguing insects every day; this blog is a collection of stories about them.
The photos in this blog can be enlarged by clicking on them. I took all of them. If you want to use one, please ask permission in the comments section below the blog and I'll respond and let you know how to attribute. Thanks for reading!